Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch — These treats are very dense, extra chewy, the flavor is caramely and rich, and the milk chocolate coating makes them taste just like a Star Crunch! No-bake, fast, and so authentic!!
Better-Than-Little-Debbie Star Crunch
I’m a Little Debbie freak. There’s not one version or variety that I don’t love.
These copycat Little Debbie Star Crunch are everything I hoped to achieve. The flavor is right on with the buttery caramel, crispy rice cereal, and milk chocolate.
They’re incredibly dense and chewy. They remind me of my favorite Rice Krispies Treats, which are dense, thick, chewy, and not at all airy or loose.
But the Star Crunch have caramel and Rice Krispies Treats don’t, and I do love caramel.
What Is Star Crunch?
If you’ve never had a Star Crunch, you’ve been missing out. Trying to describe Star Crunch for someone who’s never had them is hard.
Their site describes them as, “A chewy cookie topped with caramel and crisp rice then covered in a layer of fudge.” Yes, but that sounds a bit underwhelming.
I would describe them as what you’d get if you made Rice Krispies Treats with caramel rather than marshmallows, and packed it extremely tight so that the density level is off the charts.
In many ways, the flavors remind me of a 100 Grand Bar. Crispy rice, caramel gooeyness, and milk chocolate. I love 100 Grand Bars, too. At least I’m consistent in my preferences!
Ingredients for Homemade Star Crunch
For this DIY Star Crunch recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Kraft caramel bits
- Unsalted butter
- Mini marshmallows
- Rice Krispies cereal
- Milk chocolate
- Vegetable shortening
Store-bought Star Crunch don’t have marshmallows in them, but adding them was the only way I could achieve enough fluff and lightness without making the treats airy or dry. They also add proper density and chewiness.
The finished treats don’t read of marshmallows at all. There’s not enough quantity used and they’re a behind-the-scenes workhorse to help create all the texture qualities I was looking, minus imparting any real flavor.
How to Make Star Crunch
I am so pleased with how the homemade Star Crunch recipe turned out! They’re remarkably similar to the real thing and no-bake.
I’ll warn you that it’s lots of microwaving in short bursts, stirring, reheating, stirring, repeating, but you can handle that.
- Begin by melting one eleven-ounce bag of Kraft Caramel Bits. Heat in short bursts so you don’t scorch the caramels, stirring and mashing them after each burst.
- To the soft caramels, add the butter, heat for a minute to melt the butter, and stir to incorporate.
- Add mini marshmallows and heat to melt them. As they’re heated, they’ll puff and swell rather than turn into a runny liquid, but finally they’ll become soft enough to smash down into something that’s on the runnier side.
- Add the Rice Krispies cereal, and stir to combine.
- Spray your hands with cooking spray and reach into the mixing bowl and form 11 equal-sized patties.
- Place the discs on a baking tray or large plate and allow them to cool and set up for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before dipping them in chocolate.
The first three ingredients (butter, caramels, marshmallows) won’t appear to want to melt or combine and you’ll be cursing me — but just trust in the process and do your best to melt and combine ingredients. The recipe WILL work!
I used Kraft caramel bits because I didn’t want to unwrap 11 ounces of caramels one by one — the Bits because they’re a huge time saver!
If your only option is to unwrap a bag of caramels, have fun.
Do NOT use caramel ice cream sauce, caramel topping, or anything that’s already in liquid form because it’s too thin and runny and won’t give authentic density in the finished bars.
I don’t know if you could make the Star Crunch on the stove top and prefer the microwave whenever possible. However, if you don’t have a microwave try melting everything on the stove and see how it turns out!
Milk chocolate is the way to go for authenticity and I used one bag of milk chocolate chips, 12 ounces.
I strongly recommend adding a tablespoon or two of vegetable shortening (Crisco) when melting the chocolate. It does wonders for helping the chocolate stay smoother and makes dipping much, much easier.
You don’t have to go out and buy shortening for this, and in general, I don’t like shortening. I always swap butter for shortening, even in recipes where it says to use shortening, but for dipping projects shortening is a huge help.
I also recommend not melting all of the chocolate in one go. I heated half in the microwave with shortening, dipped half the discs; then finished the project by heating the remaining half. When working with melted chocolate and dipping projects, working in smaller batches proves easier so the chocolate doesn’t start setting up and getting gloppy and hard to work with.
Dip the discs, one by one, into the chocolate bath. I balance them with two forks, so the excess chocolate can drain off through the fork tines. Let the chocolate drain off well over the bowl before placing the disc on a parchment-lined baking sheet or large tray, otherwise you’ll waste lots of chocolate to the parchment paper.
The beauty of shortening while dipping is that it keeps the chocolate looser and resistant to setting up.
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Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch
- one 11-ounce bag Kraft Caramel Bits or 11 ounces caramels
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, half of one stick
- 2 cups mini-marshmallows, half of one standard 10-ounce bag
- 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- one 12-ounce bag, 2 cups milk chocolate chips, melted for dipping
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, optional but highly recommended
- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the caramel bits and microwave on high power to soften and melt, about 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to check and stir. The caramels don't melt into a smooth, thin sauce like caramel ice cream sauce; instead they're the consistency of natural peanut butter that's a bit loose and oily. As long as they're softened and somewhat melted, that's fine.
- Add the butter to the caramels, and heat on high power to melt the butter, about 1 minute. Stir the butter and caramel together to combine; the butter will pool and may be difficult to incorporate and it's okay if there's some pooling.
- Add the marshmallows and heat to melt them, about 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to check and stir to combine. Marshmallows will swell and puff and after about 2 minutes of intermittent heating, they should be sufficiently soft enough to stir into the butter-caramel mixture. Quickly and briefly fold to combine.
- While the mixture is still nice and hot, add the cereal and stir to combine, mixture will cool down and firm up quickly.
- Spray your hands with cooking spray or grease them with butter and form 3-inch diameter discs that are about 1-inch tall (I made 11). The batter will be warm but cool enough to handle easily; if yours is too warm, wait until it cools sufficiently to handle it to shape the discs.
- Place discs on prepared baking sheet sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow them to firm up for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before dipping them in chocolate.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and shortening (helps chocolate stay much smoother and for a longer period and highly recommend), and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute. Heat in 15-second bursts, stopping to check and stir after each, until chocolate can be stirred smooth. Note – I find it easier and more convenient to melt half chocolate and shortening now, and after it's been used, heat the remainder; that way chocolate stays warm, smooth, and easier to work with.
- Dip discs into chocolate one by one, and let chocolate drain off over the bowl, before returning coated discs to a parchment-lined tray. I find it easiest to balance the discs with two forks, that way the chocolate can drain off through the tines.
- Allow treats to set up and cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (the shortening will be resistant to setting up at room temperature).
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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